Chinese Taipei trounced by Japan
Mercy rule is enforced, asTaipei drops to 0-2
TOKYO -- The eight-ball showed up way too early for Chinese Taipei Saturday at the Tokyo Dome.
It arrived five batters into their World Baseball Classic game against Japan when, with two outs, right-handed starter Chu-Chien Hsu served up a three-run home run to Hitoshi Tamura, starting Chinese Taipei towards a 14-3 loss before 31,047. The game was stopped after seven innings because of the 10-run "mercy" rule.
"I knew it was going to be a tough match when they hit that three-run homer in the first inning," manager Lin Hua-Wei said. "Yes, it had some influence on the game tonight."
Even with Japan's three-run head start, there were some early opportunities for Chinese Taipei to put some pressure on Japan and just maybe delay the home country team from reaching the second round of the inaugural World Baseball Classic.
But it was not to be as Chinese Taipei stranded four of the five runners it had in the first two innings and the game became an eventual rout. Japan joined Korea as the Asia Pool's representatives in the second round of the 16-team tournament in Anaheim March 12-16.
That is where Chinese Taipei wanted to go, but certain things got in their way, Japan's awakened offense being one of them. It hurt that the best pitcher in the country, Chien-Ming Wang, decided to skip the World Baseball Classic and attend Spring Training with the Yankees.
"We didn't have some good players in the Asia round," Hua-Wei said. "It is hard to measure how big of an influence that was, but it was an influence."
Hua-Wei's game plan Saturday was to use any and all pitchers available. So when one hurler encountered trouble, that pitcher was removed and another one came on to stem the Japan attack.
The veteran manager used eight pitchers in all and none of them lasted longer than 2 2/3 innings.
"Our performance as not good," Hua-Wei said, "but our opponent was better than we imagined. We learned we must have more effort to beat a team like that."
Hsu lasted one inning, prompting the parade of pitchers. There was no way of stopping a Japan offense that scored 18 runs against China in eight innings on Friday.
That didn't stop Hua-Wei from trying, however. When reliever Chien-Fu Yang walked Kosuke Fukadome with two outs in the second inning, after already allowing a run, the second pitching change of the game occurred.
More pitching changes were made in the third and fifth innings, but none of them worked the way Hua-Wei wanted and the team's maiden voyage in the 16-team Classic ends Sunday with a game against winless China.
After Hsu spotted Japan a three-run lead, his teammates put two runners on base in the bottom of the first when Japan starter Daisuke Matsuzaka hit Chien-Ming Chang with a pitch and walked Chih-Sheng Lin. But the potential get-on-the-board scoring chance fizzled when Wei-Chu bounced into a double play.
After falling four runs behind in the top of the second, Chinese Taipei showed some offensive life when Tai-Shan Chang and Chia-Hsien Hsieh singled with none out. Shortstop Chin-Lung Hu attempted a sacrifice bunt, but popped it up to the pitcher for the first out of the inning.
A groundout produced a run, but a line-drive out to left field by Chang-Ming Cheng added to Chinese Taipei's frustration. When Japan scored six runs in the fifth inning, it was time to start pointing to their rivals from mainland China in Sunday's early game.
"I feel happy for Korea and Japan," Hua-Wei said."
Jim Street is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.